The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

The Unfinished Life of Addison StoneReviewed for this blog by Andrea, Windsor Library

Addison Stone is a young New York Art Scene wunderkind who is found dead after falling while installing a billboard art piece. She was known for public stunts, intimate portraits, and her much-publicized relationships.

This title is engrossing and (yes I KNOW it is a writing teacher’s cardinal sin not to use this word, but) interesting. I was interested in Addison’s story. I felt sympathetic toward her and her struggles –  mental, physical, social, professional.  The frame of the story is Griffin’s attempt to find the answers in the mystery of Stone’s death (Stone is fictional, which sent me on an Internet goose chase, but it adds depth to the story, and a reason for the design). The book starts with an article about her death, then unfolds through interview clips from those who knew and loved her, interspersed with articles, pictures, works of art, and more to flesh out the story. Griffin does a great job giving each character who talks to her about Addison a voice – the ex-boyfriends, family members, and friends all gave insight to the story in their own way. There’s also a heavy theme of mental disorder (Addison is diagnosed with schizophrenia) that I thought was handled well (having no personal experience with the disorder).

Addison’s story paints a vivid picture of talent, youth, isolation, genius, and betrayal. The voices and their characters, plus a well thought out story line made for a complete reading experience. Is it an award contender? While reading, I thought it was a great choice for teens who might not identify as big readers: it’s flashy with its full-color (and sometimes full-page) images, it’s quick (some of the character snippets are less than a page long), and it’s dramatic. Its character development happens almost all off the page and it’s very contained; the whole plot is told in retrospect. It certainly wouldn’t be a traditional choice, but I’d be happily surprised if it were recognized come the end of the month.

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3 thoughts on “The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

  1. Lisa

    I loved this book! I’ve been a fan of Adele Griffin’s work since The Other Shepards and Amandine. One of the things I really like, and that would make for a great discussion, is that she leaves it up in the air whether Addison’s death is suicide or supernatural. The hints of ghostly possession are subtle but seriously spooky.

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  2. Lisa

    ETA: Someday My Printz Will Come did Addison Stone today, too, and a commenter said she found the artwork too distracting. That made me think about my reading experience, because I read a bound galley, which had almost all the art, but everything was black and white. I think that had an effect on how I read the book. I thought the photos, drawings, paintings were really cool, but I was more focused on the words. When we got our finished copy, I flipped through to see the full-color illustrations but didn’t reread the book, so the story was still the most important part for me. Just something to think about….

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  3. andreaingala Post author

    @Lisa – I’m so happy to find another champion of this one. It was…. I don’t know, just so *cool* to read, maybe because of the content (high-brow art world), setting (NYC), format, or everything combined. I’m headed over to SLJ now to see what they say, but I really, really liked the artwork and other additions. I thought it made it completely unique. I thought of Chopsticks, but more fleshed out (and truthfully, understandable).

    PS – have you considered writing a review for us????

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